The NFL really loves to hype their “draft day,” which generally falls to the final Thursday in April. They make a big deal about having former NFL players announcing draft picks, commissioning new hats for picks to wear and encouraging fans to line the streets outside the auspicious Radio City Music Hall and call out support for their team, amongst other things.
But Thursday will only see 32 picks called. Sure the calls come in prime time, but the other 200 or so choices come down between Friday and Saturday, and the Tom Bradys of the world know that’s when some of the future most valuable players really end up falling.
The Patriots have just five total picks in this year’s draft (as of Wednesday morning) and below is one idea of what they could (and maybe should) do with them. But it’s highly likely that Bill Belichick will do what he does best and trade around to get a few of those 4th, 5th and 6th round choices the team is currently lacking. The man likes to get his money’s worth. For the sake of argument though, we’re going to pretend no maneuvering occurs and keep the Patriots where they currently sit on the board.
WR Keenan Allen (Cal)
Yes, the Patriots have more than a few needs on defense, and those should have been addressed much more than they have been in recent years. But there is enough young talent on that side of the ball for the moment (Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower were both first round selections by the Patriots in last year’s draft) and Allen can fill the most gaping hole in the Pats roster. Having parted ways with Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, there’s a need for an impact wide out for Brady to develop with over the next couple seasons and Allen is this team’s type of guy. He runs crisp routes, plays fast in game and by all accounts has a good work ethic. Plus, he’s 6’2” and the Pats could use a receiver who has a little height to him (no offense, Danny).
DE Alex Okafor (Texas)
Is defensive end a bigger need for the Patriots than cornerback? Hard to say at this stage, but New England seems to churn through ends at an alarming rate. The 6’5”, 264lb Okafor had a consistently productive career at Texas and could contribute quickly as a run stuffer. He also has experience at defensive tackle from his earlier collegiate days, so he has the potential to be the versatile kind of weapon the Pats love to get their hands on.
CB David Amerson (North Carolina State)
Remember how badly Alfonzo Dennard got burned in the Championship game? The turf at Gillette may still be scorched. The Pats need a downfield coverage specialist and Amerson fits the bill. Granted he hasn’t shown as much consistency as one might hope for in a potential future starter, but there are few players at this position in the draft who have as much big play ability. The guy had 13 interceptions in 2011, tied for second most in NCAA history. That’s worth pulling the trigger at 91.
OT Jason Weaver (Southern Miss)
The seventh round is where teams have the chance to get a lot for a little. If the Pats take Weaver, they could get a solid back-up tackle for the next five seasons. He’s a big, solid guy (6’4”, 313lb) and showed his fortitude by rising from the junior college level all the way to honorable mention on the All-Conference USA Team. Kid has some gumption.
RB Cierre Woods (Notre Dame)
Woods isn’t exactly a power back, but he’s sturdy; he can eek out that extra yard or two. The Patriots haven’t put a lot of value on running back since the Laurence Maroney debacle but at this stage of the draft, a guy like Woods you can gamble on. Good vision, decent acceleration and overall good movement out weigh the questions surrounding his personal conduct (he was suspended for violating team rules).